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Mild SPOILER Warning

Omar: 3.0 out of 5.0 stars

Vicenzo Natali’s Cube, now this is one that I had been wanting to watch for a very long time. Many years ago I came across this film online and the premise sounded so great that I could not wait to watch it. Over the years I would occasionally come across it on TV but either missed a portion of it or was only able to start it and had to leave before it finished. I was finally able to watch it from start to finish and I’m glad I did because it proved to be a very entertaining thriller. Of course if you’re looking at my score you can tell that I definitely had my problems with it and despite the entertainment value I feel like the film was held back in a couple of key ways.

This film starts out in an extremely gruesome manner but one that hooks you in right away. The basic setup to the movie is that a group of strangers find themselves locked in a industrial-looking cube-shaped room with doors on every side (meaning six doors per room). Each door can be opened by spinning the latch attached and opens to another seemingly identical room. The only difference being that some rooms are colored differently….oh yeah and some rooms have deadly traps in them that kill you within seconds. Any who, the original group of five strangers (eventually joined by another later in the film) provide more than enough fodder for cube’s endless gory traps as they try to figure out what the hell is going on and how to find their way out.

Lets start with things I liked about the film because I think it did many things very well. What I find to be the strongest point of the movie is the mystery of the cube. The plot and characters were a bit weak but the concept of the cube and the mystery that shrouds it were enough to keep me intrigued. The story does a good job of not telling you too much which keeps you guessing. Another thing I liked about the movie was the atmosphere of tension. When death potentially lurks behind every locked door and the only way to survive is to keep going through said doors there are obviously going to be some tense moments. The movie doesn’t just rest on this inherent tension though and does a good job of elevating these moments with claustrophobic and disorientation camerawork using techniques like zooming in for closeups on characters faces and angling cameras to look up at faces rather than straight on. There is also very limited use of any music except for during the most tense and crucial moments which again serve to elevate these moments even further. I also liked how the lighting worked in the film in that everything was made to feel and look so artificial and industrial, it added greatly to the feelings of claustrophobia and desperation to get out. Lastly, I also loved that the movie was ambitious enough to not be afraid of killing off anyone at any moment.

Now to what I didn’t like about the movie. The story beyond just the concept of the cube was pretty lackluster. The main characters felt flat and I had no reason to like or root for any of them. At the very end I started to pull for some of them but by then the movie was pretty much over. I actually found most characters to be sort of obnoxious to the point to which I felt nothing when they died and really didn’t care if they made it out of the cube or not. The next big thing I didn’t like about the movie was unfortunately the script. Other than simply feeling dated the script was also quite dry, interactions between characters felt stiff and phony. At times I also felt like the movie’s pacing was off, some moments  moved way too quickly and others dragged a bit.

In the end I give this movie a 3.0 out of 5 stars because while the concept was exciting and fascinating, the characters and script (two of the most important aspects to any film) were just too flat and uninspired. I did love how the film reminded me greatly of Portal 2! and I must say that I did enjoy the bit of irony at the end there though where: *SPOILER*  Kazan, the character who was least fit to survive in the real world where he was most likely treated as an outcast and who was most capable of surviving inside the cube, survived while the rest of the cast who was more suited to surviving in the outside world than the cube all died.

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Omar: 3.9 out of 5 stars

MILD SPOILER WARNING 

Hello fans, friends, groupies, and those few of you unlucky enough to not fall into any of these categories. First movie on our film review journey that promises to be an epic thrill ride is Patrick Kack-Brice’s CREEP, starring Mark Duplass and Patrick Kack-Brice. First and foremost I have to say what attracted me to this movie was the 93% freshness rating on Rotten Tomatoes. My feeling with books and movies is that there are far too many high-quality ones out there for me to waste my precious free time on the terrible ones. This doesn’t mean I don’t occasionally make time for the newest Sharknado offering or sometimes even an Adam Sandler movie, but it DOES mean that when I see a new movie get added to Netflix with such a good RT score I jump on it.

But lets get started with the review…

Peachfuzz is friendly, I promise

This found-footage film starts out with Aaron (Patrick Brice) driving to a remote city in the mountains in response to an obscure craigslist ad that promises $1,000 for one days work. Now that’s a pretty sweet stack of cash for someone in desperate need of some benjis so I understand Aaron’s initial motivation. Once he arrives at the listed address he meets Josef, the likable (if a bit lonely and eccentric) employer. Without giving anything too revealing away, this is where things start to get weird with an odd “tubby time” scene, awkward fetish stories, a creepy wolf mask, and much more.

The storyline here is nothing earth shattering and it predictably includes many of the same found-footage scares that you see in other movies of the genre (jump scares, camera tricks, etc) but it’s never boring. In fact I might even say the story is refreshing due mainly to the zaniness of the script and the absurdness of Josef’s character. When I say absurd I don’t just mean weird either, I mean absurd as in senseless and chaotic in a way that just makes you laugh at times.

While Josef is dynamic and unpredictable, Aaron is a bit stale and frustrating. For the first half of the movie I can sympathize with most decisions Aaron makes and can see myself making similar decisions if I were in his shoes. I have to agree with my partner Liz’s analysis though that later in the film Aaron makes stupid decision after stupid decision. I was going to write a few of them down to show an example but decided against it because there are just too many. I mean I know the dude was thirsty for some cash but damn sometimes it just isn’t worth it.

The camerawork and art direction are pretty standard found-footage stuff, won’t be winning any technical awards anytime soon. One thing that did standout to me for some odd reason was the Peachfuzz mask. Josef’s wolf mask, Peachfuzz, creeped me out and I don’t quite know why. It might have been the disturbing backstory or the menacing teeth. Whatever it was about the mask, mission accomplished.

This is a story that on paper doesn’t sound too incredible and that’s because it’s not but this is one of those cases where the script and characters elevate a movie beyond its premise. What this movie does well it does very well and in the end I think that’s what makes it memorable. I could sit here and nitpick about the fact that the cinematography was standard, the story was nothing crazy, and that Aaron was idiotic but that isn’t fair to the movie. There are plenty of horror films out there that blow this one out of the water technically and in scale but they’re often boring and forgettable. What I find most terrifying are not ghosts, demons, aliens, or monsters. What is most terrifying to me is that life is absurd and that there are some people out there who are so in tune with this absurdity that they commit atrocities of the most grotesque nature without blinking an eye. And maybe in the end Aaron wasn’t an idiot. Maybe in the end Aaron is just proof that some of us are conniving wolves and some of us are sheep prancing to the slaughter.